Friday, March 30, 2007

(Almost) Black Thursday

The last 36 hours have been mad to say the least but the end result is that I can now announce to the world that Karen is 12 weeks pregnant. Well, 12 weeks and 1 day according to the doctors.

Regular readers of my old Pocketropolis Blog will know that we sadly went through a miscarriage last July at the 20 week stage of development. So as you can imagine, to say we’re a mite sensitive to the vagaries of foetal development this time round is something of an understatement...

Hence a heavy bout of bleeding Wednesday night sent us into paroxysms of panic and fear and “oh no not again.” To cut a long story short the hospital could do very little until the next day as they would need to perform a scan to determine if all was well with the baby and the scan unit didn't operate at night. Cue a sleepless night for us both.

By Thursday morning the bleeding had eased off quite a bit which was a relief but we still wanted to know for sure that all was ok. Because of a lucky cancellation we managed to get a scan appointment for 2pm – otherwise we would have had to wait until Saturday! That would have been unbearable.

Thankfully the scan revealed that was all ok with the baby – nice strong heartbeat and no obvious signs of anything wrong: the bleeding appeared to just be a clot of some kind that Karen’s body had decided to get rid off at this particular time.

Cue huge sighs of relief.

We’re now set for a nuchal scan on Monday morning and another scan the week after. After what happened last year the doctors are going to monitor this pregnancy closely and we’re glad of their attention I can tell you.

Today Karen and I are both back at work feeling physically and mentally exhausted. But the normality is a comfort. Thank God it’s Friday!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is Gene Hunt’s Middle Name Barry?

Gene Hunt pictureAbsolutely cracking episode of Life On Mars last night. Gene Hunt (as always) got all the best lines:

“We’re making as much progress as a spastic in a magnet factory” and “You’ve got fingers in more pies than a leper on a cookery course” were two that stayed in my mind.

I do worry though that Gene Hunt is in danger of becoming a mere caricature of himself as opposed to a fully formed character – which would be a great shame and a waste of Philip Glenister’s talents. Maybe then it’s a good thing that the entire series will be concluded at the close of this one – it’ll prevent the show from slipping into the inevitable trap of self parody and creative laziness. Much better to quit while you’re ahead... and boy is Life On Mars way ahead of anything else on television at the moment.

A mere two episodes to go: just how are they going to end it?

Will Sam decide to stay in 1973 and make a go of it with the caramel voiced WPC Cartwright? I certainly wouldn’t blame him. Or will he awake from his coma into the straight-laced iPod PC world of 2007?

I have a theory that he’ll return to 2007 and find that everybody that featured in his alternative 1973 reality actually exist around him in 2007 – the Wizard Of Oz effect, if you like. It would make perfect sense as he’s constantly running into people that he knows or people who are related to people that he knows... his version of 1973 is constructed from people and places already known to him.

Just imagine: a politically correct, CND badge wearing, yoghurt slurping, feminist loving Gene Hunt!

Or is that so great a paradox it would break the laws of the time space continuum forever?

By the way: Gene Barry Hunt. GBH. Get it?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Curtains For Dick

Dick Strawbridge picDick Strawbridge must surely have the biggest moustache in the UK. It’s bristlingly humungous.

So humungous in fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see it part down the middle to reveal Tommy Trinder on the London Palladium stage shouting out good ol’ cockney rhyming gags about his mother-in-law getting her dumplings trapped in Mrs Rawlin's washboard at number 35.

I’m convinced that in an emergency Dick’s mighty moustache actually fans out 360 degrees around the central pivot of his nose to become a shiny conker-coloured radar dish that links up with his (homemade) GPS system and allows Dick to accurately pinpoint his exact whereabouts to within one hair follicle of his impressively groomed hair curtain.

Does the man sleep with his nose in a grow-bag? How the hell does he get his tache so big? I swear to God that in the new series of It’s Not Easy Being Green it appears to have grown another 2 foot in length. Any longer and Dick will turn into Cousin Itt from the Addams Family.

How does he kiss his wife? Does he have to pin it up behind his ears with hair-clips?

Despite – or maybe because of – Dick’s top-lip hirsuteness I find him incredibly engaging viewing. Most people know him from his incessant victories on Scrapheap Challenge; so constant was his success I believe that in the end the show’s producers had to ask him to stop entering so that other lesser mortals could stand a chance of winning occasionally. The man is undoubtedly a green gadget genius. And fair play to him, I say.

The only thing that genuinely puzzles me about Dick is how on earth an ex army Lieutenant Colonel with a fulsome military moustache can: (a) be so jolly, easy going, level-headed and humane and (b) have such a yoghurt-weaving, bangle-wearing, hippie peacenik family?

Does Dick’s moustache have holistic, world-healing powers that the Ministry of Defence doesn't know about?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ariston And On And Off

Of course it had to happen.

Now that the first mortgage repayment has been made... now that the entire house and its contents are solely ours... the washing machine decides to go belly up and do a fine impression of a dying fly (complete with spin cycle and eco-wash option).

I came home yesterday afternoon to find the programming dial clicking manically through every point on its fascia while the washing drum sat flooded and still like Romney Marsh. My underpants were not happy.

So, as some wise blogger commented on this ‘ere blog a few weeks ago, now the house is ours so are ALL the bills. Oh joy.

Even as I write a washing machine repair man of the highest calibre has already been engaged to come to the rescue of my grundies on Monday afternoon.

Hopefully the operation will be quick, painless and cheap.

My pants await with baited breath...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Novel Preview

Ooh scary.

My blog buddy, Old Cheeser, has suggested that I preview an excerpt from my novel-in-progress right here on this very blog for everybody to read and laugh at / pull to pieces / plagiarise.

I don’t usually show people my work until it’s completed so this is quite a departure for me, however, with such a big writing project I can see the benefit of gathering as much feedback as possible.

So. Here for your delight and edification is a small excerpt:

Background: Mike has been mugged and suffered a severe head injury as a consequence. He is recovering in hospital. He has recently experienced a very weird episode which he is convinced is real but everyone else is putting down to epilepsy as a result of his head injuries. Mike refuses to accept this and has recently fallen out with his girlfriend, Cassie, about it...


“Here. I got you some juice.”

Cassie holds the plastic cup out to me but withholds it just enough that I have to reach out for it. I guess she’s seeing if I’m prepared to cover some of the distance myself or continue acting like an arsehole. Her eyes are downcast, looking only at the cup with an intensity that suggests she’s certain it will spill if she risks a sideways glance somewhere else. It’s quite convincing if you’re a stranger but I know her better than that.

I gently touch her fingers with my own as I take the cup, leaving them there a second longer than necessary. As always I’m amazed at how cool and soft they feel and how much information the touch seems to communicate to me... nothing I could put into words but an instinct of something known and knowing. I see her look up immediately and make eye contact. She smiles. Small and soft like her fingers but it’s there. Her eyes still look hurt though. The blue of her pupils looks flattened out somehow. And bruised. Christ, did I do that?

“Cass. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have... I just...” I shake my head. I feel strikingly tearful which in turn makes me feel thoroughly pathetic and miserable. It must be all the drugs they’re pumping into me. I don’t usually get this emotional. I take a few deep breaths to steady the wobble in my throat. I haven’t been as snivelly as this since I was a young kid apologizing to my mother for riding my bike on the pavement and knocking Mrs Stamford over. I was very definitely in the wrong that time too. I take a sip of juice. It’s horribly bland but this isn’t the right time to voice a complaint. I catch her eye. She’s looking at me expectantly but there’s no sign of any concealed malignancy or stored-up fury in her countenance. That’s something I suppose. And more than I deserve.

I begin again. “I didn’t mean to take it out on you. You’re the last person I’d want to do that to. I just...” I wave my hand about in the air as if I could catch sift what it is I want to say from out of the dust motes. “It’s just the idea of...” My tongue buckles in my mouth. I can’t even say it. As apologies go it’s not going to win any awards for eloquence. I feel the soft burn of tears at my eyes yet again and have to break off. I give Cassie a helpless look before dropping my head and staring into my own lap. I shake my head. “What a great apology.”

Cassie’s hand moving through my hair, stroking my head and the side of my face make me look up. “I’ve had worse.” She steps nearer and her other hand pulls my head towards her breasts. I reach out and grip her around the waist, hugging her close to me. I can feel her chin resting gently on the top of my head and the warmth of her breath ruffling my hair. She’s shaking in my grip and I let her cry. Knowing Cass she’s been holding it all in since I was first admitted into the hospital. It’s weird but Cassie crying gives me the strength to get my head back together. It’s not a vampiric thing, more a reaction to her display of vulnerability: my response is to be the strong one and protect her. It’s nice to know that all my caveman genomes are responding normally.

Having my face crushed so closely against her breasts gives me an instant hard-on too. I can smell her perfume – Opium – and a vague scent of washing powder from her blouse and behind it all the unmistakable scent of Cassie: healthy sweat, hormones and emotion. I feel undeniably horny. Mr Caveman is definitely alive and well. It might be a pathetic and disappointingly male concept to cling to but that single reaction alone makes me feel more hopeful than I have done in days. So why I’m now crying is beyond me. A few short sobs and I’m done. It’s as if my awareness of crying removes the ability. I guess the analytical part of my mind is stronger than the emotional.

Two kisses on top of my head and Cassie gently breaks the hold. She steps back slightly and daylight and cool air suddenly sting my face. I feel cleaner for it. I hold her hands and we stay that way for a while, getting our bearings, not speaking.

After a while though I’m overtaken with the need to talk again. To voice my fears. I shake my head by way of a preamble. “I just can’t bear the thought of...” I still can’t say it and close my mouth over the sudden knot in my throat.

“Epilepsy.” Cassie says it for me. Quietly. Confidently. Her tone gives the word a neutral pH. Imbues it with soft pastel blues. Makes it seem like a soft puppy that just needs housetraining. See. Doesn’t seem so bad when it’s out in the open and named. Except it does and it is.

I speak slowly, taking care not to allow the fear and panic I feel lace my words with aggressive hysteria. “Cassie, I am absolutely certain that what I experienced was not an epileptic fit.” I squeeze her hands as if to emphasize what I’m saying. “I was conscious right up to the last few moments. Trevor and I had sat and talked quite calmly for several minutes before he lost it. I had trouble breathing. I had a blinding headache. I panicked. I blacked out.” Cassie opens her mouth to speak but I place a finger gently upon her lips. “Some sort of weird episode I accept. But it wasn’t epilepsy. And whatever it was, was brought on by being freaked out by Trevor.”

Cassie looks pained. I can tell from her face that she’s caught up in some sort of internal conflict. For all that Cassie is strong and fiercely independent in most areas of her life she’s nevertheless one of those people who’ll blindly accept the advice and judgment of a medical expert or doctor even if it flies in the face of her own cast-iron convictions. Mind you, I’m probably being very unfair. I’m not exactly giving her much to go on. I had a weird episode but not an epileptic fit; please believe me even though whatever sense I was born with has been punched out of me... I gaze steadily into her eyes but try not to make it too invasive, willing her to at least allow me the barest chance of being right.

At last she nods and gives me a watery smile. Again I feel like I’m being humoured more than believed but again I’m happy to settle for it. At least for the time being anyway. It buys me some time to try and figure out exactly what did happen. I sigh loudly and give a little shudder. I don’t know why but each time I think about Trevor’s visit I feel more afraid than any thought of epilepsy could possibly make me.

“We’re just so worried about you, Mike.” Cassie voice, so close to me, brings my attention back to her face. Her skin is blotchy and pale – a sign she’s not slept properly in days – but she still looks beautiful and vital.

I pull her closer still and wrap my arms around her waist. “Am I really that fragile?” It feels good to have her this close and captive. I can smell the warmth of her skin and the moisture it contains. The familiar pulses of arousal return once more.

“You didn’t see yourself when they brought you in, Mike. Your face was messed up so badly. There was so much blood.” Cassie closes her eyes, whether to remember more clearly or not to remember at all, I can’t tell. “And then you were unconscious for days. Out cold. And even after that you were only half there. With all the drugs and your injuries you were asleep most of the time. All I had to go on each time I came to see you was your face and at first it just wasn’t yours. It was so swollen and...” She struggles for the right word. “Alien. Not you.” She shakes her head as if to throw off a bad dream.

“You should have seen the other guy.” It’s a feeble joke but even so I’m surprised by Cassie’s reaction. Her shoulders stiffen and her face whitens even more. She looks worried. Sick even. “Hey, what’s wrong?” I rub a hand up and down her back to try and calm her down. I’m shocked by how much she’s trembling. I pull her into a hug and rest the side of my head next to hers. The intimacy is comforting and makes me almost feel normal. Cassie puts her arms around my neck and grips me fiercely. It’s like she’s hanging off a cliff. “Cass? Cass? What did happen? Everybody’s been so cagey about it all – even the police. Nobody will talk to me about it.”

I feel Cassie shake her head again and from her breathing I can tell she’s crying silently over my shoulder. I stroke her back some more and gently kiss her neck. “Hey, come on, it can’t be all that bad. Look, I promise not to have another funny turn.” Another feeble joke. In a crisis I’m full of them.

When Cassie’s voice comes it’s shaky and ragged and barely above a whisper. “It was horrible, Mike. They brought him in at the same time as you. Only he was dead.” I feel myself gasp feeling oddly detached from my reaction; like it’s another person experiencing it. I’m glad that I’m not only holding onto Cassie but also sitting down on my bed. My legs feel like they’ve turned to water.

“Dead? Christ. I had no idea.” In my mind I go over what I can remember of the attack. A montage of badly dubbed images and snapshots flicker before me but nothing I can get a firm grip on. I lick my lips before speaking; they’ve gone suddenly very dry. “To tell you the truth I can’t really recall anything much about what happened. I saw blood. I think.” I shake my head. “It all happened too fast.”

A loud sob from Cassie makes me refocus on the present and I squeeze her tightly to me, at a loss as to what else I can do. A typical guy, I want to find something to say to her to fix the unfixable but, of course, there isn’t anything. I just let her cry and hold her close.

“He had your name, Mike. He had your name.” Cassie bites off another sob and breathes in hoarsely. “Your name exactly. The police thought it was a joke. When I arrived I didn’t know which one was...”

More sobs rack her and her whole body seems to dissolve into a mass of trembling and convulsive shakes. All I can think of to say is, "Oh God."

Kerching!

Thankfully there’s been some movement on the money-owed-to-me situation. I received an apologetic email last night and a promise that the cheque can be cashed without problem and the rest of the payment will be with me shortly.

I should cocoa.

The horse I bought is looking much relieved and I can at last stop sounding like some sort of Victorian debt collector.

“I don’ts cares how many brats you gots living in ee-ah, dahlin, youse ain’t paid yer rent so youse ain’t stayin. Sling yer bleedin hook, luv!”

Ah… a wasted job opportunity methinks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Taking The P

Following on from last week’s tirade against those who owe me money a comic / irritating incident occurred last Friday evening.

There I am, sitting in the splendor of my home office when I hear the rap of the letterbox. Looking out of the window I spy one of my debtors / clients racing back to a car noisily revving its engine in the street outside my house. A slam of the car door, a crunch of gears and off they roar in a cloud of BMW fueled testosterone-exhaust. And I definitely mean it that way round.

At last, thinks I, payment has been delivered unto me! And off I jolly well trot downstairs to check out the cheque.

Imagine my chagrin then to discover that (a) the cheque only covers the amount of one of the TWO overdue invoices and (b) the cheque is dated 16th APRIL 2007.

My first impression was that I’d effectively been given a worthless bit of paper and therefore still haven’t been properly paid. My second impression was one of deep personal insult. Evidently in terms of settling up their accounts I’m right down the bottom of the list and they obviously feel it’s perfectly acceptable to mess me about.

Now I could pay in the cheque as, given the automated nature of banking these days, they wouldn’t even look at the date… however, if the cheque bounces I incur a fee.

In the larger scheme of things this is only a small thing to gripe about but when I’ve spent the last two months prioritizing their (often tedious) work and meeting their company deadlines in order for them to make money it’s a real kick in the teeth to be treated like this.

To my mind it’s damned unprofessional.

I need to get me some other clients and kick these cowboys into touch.

In the meantime I’ve sent them a rather “cool” email voicing the hope that the rest of the payment will be on its way to me soon.

Does anybody know where I can purchase a horse’s head?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Stuff Of Nightmares

Jamie Oliver picThis morning Karen got Mothering Sunday off to a good start by telling me of the dream she'd had last night…

It seems we were having a big party and for some inexplicable reason we’d invited Jamie Oliver along (hopefully not to do the catering). Each time Karen tried to get into the bathroom to use the toilet she found Jamie Oliver just leaving the facilities. Upon closer inspection she found that Jamie’s bathroom manners left much to be desired… basically pukka poo splattered all over the bowl and all over the seat to boot. Disgusting. Three times this occurred in the dream.

Anyway. Maybe it’s the “three” motif but it reminded me of the Old Testament story of Pharaoh’s dream of three fat cows and three thin cows and how Joseph correctly interpreted the dream to save Egypt from famine.

I feel the dream is significant in some way but can’t fathom it out. I need a modern day Joseph to analyse it and tell me what it means.

Any ideas, anyone?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bring Back The Nit Nurse

Nit Nurse pictureThis week my household has enjoyed a singularly itchy encounter with nits, care of my boy’s infant school. The poor lad’s scalp has been a moveable feast for a whole army of little head lice and their chomping offspring.

We have staunchly countered their invasion with copious administrations of hair conditioner and that old standby the nit comb. To be sure we remove every colony of the nit nation Karen and I have also submitted ourselves to regular nit grooming.

I’m proud to say that not only was I nit free but my hair is now lovely and glossy and has a sheen not unlike satin seen by moonlight.

Now, as problems go nit picking (ho ho) is a pretty small one and easily dealt with though it is a mite (pun!) inconvenient to have to submit to the nit removal regime every night.

All of this could have been avoided or the chances of it at least lessened, however, if the school employed that hardy bastion of anti-nit warfare, the Nit Nurse. We used to have regular visits from this rubber gloved lady of lice destruction when I was at school and all occurrences of nits were nicely contained and quickly dealt with as a consequence.

My boy’s school however does not utilize the Nit Nurse – maybe this is a national policy, who knows? – as they feel it draws negative attention to the condition and stigmatizes those who develop it. What rot. So instead of nit outbreaks being stamped upon quickly and efficiently they are left until the whole class gets infected. Marvelous. That’s one way of “leveling the playing field” I guess. Now no-one need feel picked on just because they’ve got nits… cos everybody’s got ‘em.

I can’t help feeling that this is a sad case of political correctness over commonsense. It’s also surely just a marketing problem. Sell the Nit Nurse to people in a positive light and you remove the stigma along with the nits. Simple.

And what stigma is there anyway? My boy has been very proud of his head-based nit farm and has eagerly been telling everybody about it.

Well, those who have stood still long enough...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Few Funnies

It's been a long, tiring day folks... so here's a few second hand funnies found on the internet in lieu of me writing anything original, interesting or witty of my own...

Seen in a Coventry Factory:
Any member of staff who needs to take the day off to go to a funeral must warn the foreman on the morning of the match

Sign outside a church in Hemel Hempstead:
The last world war. Where and when will it be fought? St. Margaret's, Hartford Street on Tuesday 22nd February at 7:00 p.m.

On a church door:
'This is the gate of Heaven. Enter Ye all by this door.' (This door is kept locked because of the draught. Please use side door.)

Sign on a repair shop door:
We can repair anything. (Please knock hard on the door - the bell doesn't work)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bad Debtors

It’s rare that I gripe about monetary matters on this blog but today I’m feeling particularly nettled.

As well as working full time the local government authority in Leamo (and writing a novel in my spare time), I also have my own part time web design business. It’s been going about a year and although it’s not destined to expand to the point of ever getting into legal wrangles with huge eff-off companies like SKY or Virgin it does make the mortgage easier to pay and allows me to occasionally treat myself to a luxury item or two to make all this hard work seem worthwhile. It also allows me to pay off the various bills and sundries that the modern age seems to offload onto most of us.

Or at least it does when I get paid.

I know that all freelancers have great difficulty getting their customer to cough up the cash but it’s bloody annoying when I can’t pay my debts cos someone won’t pay the debt they owe me.

Karen feels I should get tough. Down tools until I get paid. I must admit I’m probably less business minded than she is – and possibly more of a wuss – so I have tried to avoid taking this nastier stance. I mean, such games of one-upmanship could lead to the clients getting arsy and heading elsewhere and STILL not paying me.

But given that I’m now owed over £600 and payment is virtually 3 month’s late I’m beginning to think that I have very little to lose.

I hate getting all hardnosed about it but they’re now COSTING me money rather than just denying me my due.

You know who you are. Pay up or I’ll stick the boot in!

Ok. Gripe over.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sky’s The Limit

SKY logoAnd who needs limitations?

I’ve been with NTL for about 7 years. I chose them mainly because friends of mine were with NTL and because as bad as their customer service always was they were no worse than any other UK ISP. They’ve now been taken over by Virgin Media... and although their customer service is yet to show ANY signs of improvement they’re still no worse than other ISPs. Same meat, different gravy. Better the devil you know. Etc.

Like most TV service providers, NTL (as it formerly was) featured a number of SKY channels on its TV packages. With the takeover of Virgin Media these channels have now been denied to Virgin customers because SKY and Virgin are apparently locked in some kind of age old bitch-fight.

So as usual the man on the street loses out.

Now, I don’t really give a rat’s doo-dah what their enmity is based upon; who drew first blood; what caused the row; who stole whose boyfriend / girlfriend / nanny goat – I just think it’s pretty pisspoor of SKY not to honour a longstanding agreement with NTL just because they’ve been taken over by a company that they have hissy fits about. It’s childish, pathetic and you know what else? Dishonourable.

How very big of you SKY, I don’t think.

Of course SKY is now pushing a major advertising campaign onto the UK to try and encourage Virgin Media users to defect so that they can once again enjoy the dubious delights of SKY One, SKY Sport and SKY Crapola.

Sorry?! You’re trying to kid me that you care about the customer first and foremost? That you’ll put our needs first?!

Yeah right.

To tell you the truth, not being a sports fan and preferring to buy my own selection of movies on DVD rather than sift through the crumbs of SKY Box Office I never really watched SKY anyway. With the exception of not being able to watch Malcolm In The Middle re-runs the loss of SKY has impinged on my life not one bit.

SKY you can stick your TV channels right up your stratosphere. And while you’re doing it, why don’t you try and grow up?

P.S. By the way folks - this is my 100th blog. Hurrah!

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Hooded Man

Robin and Marion pictureWithout any sense of shame I am happy to admit to being a true devotee of Robin Of Sherwood and have managed to get my boy successfully hooked on the show too. Which is great because ITV3 are currently rerunning every episode of this wonderful series on weekday evenings.

They have currently progressed to the Jason Connery era when Michael Praed’s dark looks were shockingly replaced with the dazzlingly bright blondness of Mr C. Sad to report, at the time, I was deeply traumatized by the death of Michael’s Robin and can remember my young burgeoning self being quite resistant to Jason’s attempts to step into the lead hero role.

Even to this day, for me Michael Praed’s character is still THE Robin Hood. He managed to portray a quiet yet strong individual, confident but not arrogant in his leadership who had a natural and unerring sense of right and wrong. His latent psychic abilities were another string, as it were, to his impressive bow. Jason’s Robin on the other hand was far more ordinary: from a privileged background his sense of right and wrong was more politicized and so somehow less personally motivated. I also thought Jason was just too gawky and awkward in his portrayal of The Hooded Man for it to sit comfortably with me. This from a gawky, awkward teenager! What a cheek I had.

Looking at them now, even though Michael Praed is still streets ahead, I have to confess that I think poor Jason Connery suffered unfairly from the inevitable comparison. I recall that even the media didn’t really take to his version of Robin and the series was dropped after his first and only outing. This was greatly unfair because it’s now plainly evident that he was growing into the role and slowly making it his own.

Anyway, it’s no good crying over the demise of a show that occurred 20 years ago... but it is interesting to compare Richard Carpenter’s Robin Of Sherwood (Richard Carpenter wrote the show) with the BBC’s recent Robin Hood adventure series.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I took the Beeb and the makers of Robin Hood to task on many issues on an almost weekly basis. The massive plot holes... The glaring departures from recorded history... The gargantuan anachronisms... All served to undermine what had obviously been a very expensive show to produce. The Beeb had certainly lavished money on the show... onto everything in fact but decent writers.

Robin Of Sherwood on the other hand was very low budget – they only had two cameras for the entire 3 series run! - but Richard Carpenter’s writing was rich beyond price. Every story was carefully crafted. They didn’t rely on gimmicks or lightning fast editing effects. The costumes looked unquestionably of the period and I cannot recall one single anachronism or historical inaccuracy ever blighting the show. Even in 2007 the show is far superior to the BBC’s ill thought foray into Sherwood forest. It is the benchmark that others have still yet to reach.

Huge budgets are great but lead to laziness. Gimmicks date very quickly...

But good writing remains forever so.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Novel Watch

Novel update:

7,093 words written so far and I’m three scenes into chapter 2.

There have been several allusions to “boy on girl” naughtiness, a single random act of violence and a gritty, London tube journey from Oxford Circus to Stockwell.

Credits and acknowledgments so far extend to Wikipedia and the London Underground Map and my proof-reader, Karen.

Anyone wishing to purchase the film rights can contact me here via this blog.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Let Them Eat Mouldy Bread

Sainsbury’s, I am disgusted with you. Absolutely disgusted.

No. No. Don’t even attempt to apologize. It’s too late now and this has happened too many times in the past for me to be able to stomach another one of your grovelling, boot sole licking attempts at contrition.

What do you care, anyway? As long as you get my money each week you’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Never mind that yet again the bread we bought “fresh” from you on Sunday is already mouldy!

I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened. What amazes me most is that (due to lack of a bread bin and lack of space) we store our bread in the fridge. So how can it be going mouldy in three days?

Either your workers are fingering my thick cut slices before I purchase them or your bakers are doing unsavoury things with my dough.

Well thank you, Mr Sainsbury, for yet another mid-week noon break saddled with an empty lunchbox.

You can stick Jamie Oliver right up between your yeasty buns.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Vision Express

Vision Express pic
Being rather visually pedantic I’m always greatly amused when I see the Vision Express advert on TV. You know the one: some drippy guy in a raincoat walks through a forest with freshly developed photographs dropping out of the back of his coat every second.

Personally, if I was shitting Polaroids every time I took a stroll through the Forest of Dean I don’t think an optician is the first person I’d be booking an appointment to see…

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gillian’s Nipples

Gillian McKeith pictureThis is not the first time I’ve written about Madame Gillian McKeith (read my previous post here) but I am compelled to write about her again today because of two undeniable spurs.

One is a post about Gillian M and healthy eating in general on Flaming Nora’s fab blog – read it here.

Two (fittingly) is the novel spectacle of nipples appearing for the first (and hopefully last) time on this week’s edition of You Are What You Eat broadcast by Channel 4 on Wednesday evening.

Before you turn away with sickening visions of Gillian McKeith pole dancing around a twiglet swirling around your mind I must add that the nipples were not Gillian’s and weren’t even attached to a body...

In an attempt to plumb new depths of revulsion Gillian this week presented some poor hapless student with a round of drinks that would make a pig throw up. It seems that this pleasantly buxom student had a penchant for cider and cocktails – and in particular Slippery Nipples (well, don’t we all?). All of this quaffing had had rather a ballooning effect on the poor girl’s waistline. This was all the excuse Gillian needed to line up a selection of drinks that could only have been mixed at the nearest abattoir or A & E department:

1) Cider with lumps of brain matter in it – cos cider rots the brain, don’t you know.

2) Lager with eyeballs floating on the top – too much alcohol ruins your sight, doh!

3) A Slippery Nipple with real nipples in it – cos alcohol plays havoc with yer erogenous zones.

Not only was this biology lab gimmick disgusting, abusive and offensive it was also bordering on the perverted. Where does Gillian get all this stuff from? I’m assuming (hoping) that they weren’t actually human nipples - but it still begs the question whose nipples were they?

Now that could be one helluva game show...

They certainly didn’t come from a cow or a dog or a cat. Anyway, musing on their origin led Karen and I to surmise that maybe Gillian had grabbed a pair of nail clippers and clipped off her own nips just to make a point (as it were) and I must admit that I did come up with the revolting (even by my standards) idea that Gillian’s aureoles were surely surrounded by wispy grey hair and crow’s feet... you can see how such a disgusting TV spectacle had canted our thinking, can’t you? Normally we’re very sanitary and aesthetically high-brow in our conversational topics.

Anyway, it was a joy to read on Flaming Nora’s blog that Gillian’s rightful ownership of the epithet “Doctor” is in some doubt as her qualifications apparently come from some unaccredited American college so strictly speaking she isn’t a real doctor at all...

Hmm.

Is that a duck I can hear calling in the background?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An Englishman’s Home...

As from today Karen and I are now proud home owners.

All the paperwork was signed, countersigned, stamped, sealed, delivered and legalized yesterday placing our humble home firmly into the hands of myself and my good lady wife. The steel stock of The Mortgage is now firmly fixed around my throat. Its fiendish stiletto blade is at my kidneys... money demanded with menaces and all that jazz.

As my good friend Tris has pointed out: I now have the pleasure of paying for any repair bills myself – boiler, washing machine, roof tiles, gas and electricity supply, plumbing and pipe work... they’re ALL mine.

On the bright side though I own an effing house! And a three bedroom house at that. I’m on the property ladder! I’m a veritable property tycoon!

Bring up the drawbridge, love, this castle’s mine!